Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Follow your nose...until you start climbing trees... until you start playing 3-D video games...Hey, dumb nut!

Based on scans of a 1.5-inch-long (4-centimeter-long) skull (foreground) of a 54-million-year-old primate, a 3-D model (background) of the animal's brain suggests that it relied heavily on its sense of smell and had poor eyesight, a June 2009 study says.The need for better vision—to enable safe leaping from tree to tree—may have resulted in later primates evolving bigger brains, the researchers suggest.
Photograph by Eric Zamora/University of Florida
Nut-Size Ancient Skull Explains Our Brains' Bigness?
Charles Q. Choi for National Geographic News
June 30, 2009
By scanning a 54-million-year-old skull roughly the size of a walnut, scientists have created the first virtual 3-D model of an early primate brain, a new study says.
Surprisingly, the model suggests that primates (such as lemurs, monkeys, apes, and humans, among others) might have evolved larger brains as a result of the need to move quickly from tree to tree—not, as commonly assumed, to hunt for fruit or navigate within a single tree.

The 1.5-inch-long (4-centimeter-long) skull belongs to the long-gone Ignacius graybullianus—described as a cousin of our earliest ancestors—which arose less than ten million years after the dinosaurs vanished.

Discovered in Wyoming roughly 25 years ago, the fossil "is the most complete early primate skull known," said study co-author Jonathan Bloch, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Florida.

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